Sunday, March 8, 2009

It took me a long time to get back on the train

Sweet poster art by AJ Masthay

I've missed out on a lot this week, but if there's one way to end an unintended blog hiatus on my part, it's the end of Phish's latest hiatus. As I followed the action from Hampton, VA, two things really stood out.

First, the band appears to have rehearsed itself back into vintage form. There were some high points during their last run in 2004, but those highs were quickly surpassed by a monstrous first set Friday night, and from there the hits kept coming throughout the weekend. Yes, time flies by quickly -- it doesn't feel like it was that long ago when Schiff Happens (with younger bro in tow) was in the stands in Brooklyn, hailing the beginning of the end of Phish 2.0. However, by the time things finished up late last night, even the best of '04 felt like a distant memory. Phish 3.0 is officially here, and charging hard to regain the crown of "Most Powerful Touring Force in Music."

Photo by C. Taylor Crothers

Secondly, a shitload has changed (and happened in general) since the last time I or anyone else saw Phish live, at their now infamous "farewell" festival in Coventry, Vermont at the end of that same '04 tour. Back then, I couldn't even get a cell signal to call home and tell my parents, "Don't worry about me, I'm just hiking 10 miles through Vermont cow pastures after abandoning our car and all our gear on the side of the highway to go camp out in a festering mud puddle and watch a jamband play like a shell of its former self with a bunch of hippies for 3 days. Seriously, I'm fine, but I have to go -- I just had a brownie and it tasted a little funny." This weekend, I was following on Twitter as setlists and photos were posted in real time, and short of having an online audio/video multicast available (side note to Phish management: I would have happily purchased and watched this, pay-per-view style), watching the posts roll in on Twitterfall while listening to my favorite version of whatever song they were playing and checking out the live photos surprisingly put me in the middle of the action. It was the first time in my long, storied history of internet time-wasteage that I've ever followed a live event on the web like that and actually felt like I was in on the experience. Very different from following your team on the Yahoo gamecast, for example. I've always kept it pretty ghetto when it came to cellular telephone devices, but after this weekend, "Upgrade to iPhone/Blackberry" jumped at least 15 spots on the list of things to do before summer.

Other things have changed, too. It's tough to believe that Phish have been gone, lingering in the wings, for almost 5 years. In that time I have lived and traveled abroad, graduated from college, lived in 4 different places and had 3 different jobs in Stamford, CT and New York City, growing a little older and a lot more confused with each passing day. While Phish were getting their heads straight, rediscovering and reinventing themselves, I was attempting to do the same thing. Wouldn't it be nice if you could call time-out on life, Zack Morris style, go on a little life hiatus, work out all your issues, figure things out, then pop back in on life and come back with a vengeance, better than ever before?

Unfortunately, life has no set-break, and doesn't allow for such soul-searching hiatus periods. Seven days off from blogging is apparently as close as it gets. I could take this thought a lot further, and probably will at some point, but that's enough existential musings for one Monday. Not like you haven't seen it already, but I'm sure you're much more interested in the full setlist and a few more of these awesome pictures from this weekend's Phish concerts (see the rest of the official photos and setlists here). And in case you're interested, soundboard recordings of all 3 shows are currently available for free download on Phish's official music store, FLAC and CD options are also available if you're against free music.

Photo by C. Taylor Crothers

In closing, I'm bummed as hell that I didn't get to attend this weekend. Not only was it the return to top form of one of my favorite bands ever, but it would have been the perfect setting for a reunion with my old UVA cronies. For someone who isn't even from there, nobody gives more love to the big V-A than this guy. I guess I figured that karma would bring it back to me, but somehow I was the only one of my friends who didn't end up with tickets to like 7 shows. Not that I'm bitter or anything, just that much more geeked for June to get here already. From Camden to 'Roo Jersey, I'll certainly get my fill of Phishiness. As always, I only have one question: Who's comin with me??

PHISH Hampton 3/6/09

I see Trey. He looks glorious.

Set One

Divided Sky
Chalk Dust Torture
Sample In A Jar
I Didn't Know
Oh Kee Pah Ceremony
Suzy Greenberg
Train song
Water in the Sky
Squirming Coil
David Bowie

Photo by Jeff Kravitz

Set 2:

Backwards Down The Number LIne
Theme from the Bottom
First Tube
Harry Hood

Photo by C. Taylor Crothers


Bouncing Around The Room
Loving Cup

PHISH Hampton 3/7/09

Set one:

Back On The Train
Runaway Jim
Brian & Robert
Split Open and Melt
Heavy Things
Punch You in the Eye
Mexican Cousin
It's Ice
Halley's Comet
Beauty of a Broken Heart
Guelah Papyrus
Lawn Boy
Run Like An Antelope

Lawn Boy
Photo by Jeff Kravitz

Set two:

Rock & Roll
Limb by Limb
Story of the Ghost
Birds of a Feather
Wolfman's Brother
Prince Caspian
Mike's Song >

I Am Hydrogen >
Weekapaug Groove
Character Zero

"It was a Wolfman's Brother"
Photo by Jeff Kravitz


A Day in the Life

PHISH Hampton 3/8/09

Set One:

Bathtub Gin
My Friend, My Friend
Scent of a Mule
All Of These Dreams
She Thinks I Still Care*
Army of One
Cars Trucks Buses

Play it, Cactus!
Photo by Jeff Kravitz

Set Two:

Down With Disease^
Seven Below
The Horse >
Silent In The Morning
Moma Dance
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Wading In The Velvet Sea
Slave To The Traffic Light

"It's a guitboard."
"It's a keytar".
"Is it a keyboard or a guitar?"

Photo by Julia Mordaunt


Tweezer Reprise

*George Jones original, sung by Mike
**with Page on Keytar...(Schiff Happens: freakin' keytar!)


Jay said...

Fucking bad ass post, man. I just took a little hiatus from work...

I need a Zack Morris time out in the worst way. Pause life, go home and go to sleep for a while.

You ever been to Bonaroo? We went in '05 and it was sick, but 95 degrees with 204% humindity sleeping in a tent gets to you after a while.

Schiff Happens said...

Seriously, Bonnaroo '05? The ONE time I went? Alright, it's official, you're the bizarro, West Side Schiff.

Jay said...

Maybe it means we should rally the troops and rent an RV?

I must tell you, however, that of the 65 gigs on my iPod, there are 0 Springsteen songs.